Wednesday 20 January 2016

UK whales and dolphins 'at risk of extinction due to lingering toxic chemicals'

Experts found killer whales, bottlenose dolphins and striped dolphins had highest concentrations of PCB in their blubber
Thursday 14 January 2016

Killer whales and dolphins are facing the threat of extinction in UK waters because of lingering toxic chemicals which were banned more than 30 years ago, researchers have warned.

A study of more than 1,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises across Europe found their blubber contained some of the planet's highest concentrations of a man-made chemical known as PCB.

PCBs - or polychlorinated biphenyls - were previously used to make electrical equipment, flame retardants and paints but were banned in the UK in 1981.

The study's lead author Dr Paul Jepson, from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), said killer whales and bottlenose dolphins were particularly vulnerable to the pollutant as "top marine predators".

He said: "Our findings show that, despite the ban and initial decline in environmental contamination, PCBs still persist at dangerously high levels in European cetaceans.

"Few coastal orca populations remain in western European waters. Those that do persist are very small and suffering low or zero rates of reproduction.

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